Eat, baby, eat

I’m sure I’ll jinx this by mentioning it on the internet, but it’s too cute for me not to want to preserve it for posterity.

Baby J is a phenomenal eater.  Yes, we’re still having trouble with her weight, but it’s certainly not because she’s a picky eater. In fact, she’s less of a fussier eater than my husband, and certainly has a more advanced taste in cheese. (D: the cheap Parmesan powder my mom uses smells bad and I will therefore eat no expensive imported Italian Parmesan because transference!  J: *nom nom nom* more please!)

There are only a few things that J’s refused.  Millet was one, and I couldn’t blame her – I didn’t like it either.  She refused peach puree last summer, while still eating nectarine puree, which seemed weird.  We’ll try peaches again as soon as they’re in season, because I love them, and not liking a good juicy ripe peach just seems wrong to me.  She also doesn’t like peppers, but I don’t know if that’s because of the taste, or because she only has 4 teeth, and can’t bite through them with her gums.  She’s not much of a meat eater, again probably due to lack of chewing teeth – she’s fine if it’s really soft or minced.

And that’s it.

Oh, sure.  She went off fruit for a couple of weeks, but she’s back to scarfing down strawberries and raspberries and kiwis and plums and bananas.  On a given day, maybe she doesn’t like something.  But over all?  She’s eat fucking everything and I love it.  Notable foods: sashimi, deconstructed sushi rolls, pickles, olives, cooked spinach, lemon rinds, baba ganoush, humus, any kind of veggies + mayonnaise dip, tomato/eggplant/almond pasta sauce, caramelized onions, chili, Indian chickpea curry, green Thai chicken curry, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, very aged cheddar, and so on.  In fact, she’s so cheerfully omnivorous, my slightly insane mother has expressed fear that the kid has no taste buds.  To which I just laugh – if you’d ever seen her gleefully scarfing down an entire plate of veggies sauteed in olive oil and a lot of garlic, you’d know that’s just wrong – her thrill at the taste in her mouth is just so clear.

Yes, she's eating the rind and pith of a lemon.  On purpose.  And went back for more.

Yes, she’s eating the rind and pith of a lemon. On purpose. And went back for more.

I would like to say that I don’t take full credit here or anything silly.  I think I did good at offering a wide variety of foods, early and often.  I made my own baby food, so there was an infinitely better variety than the store-bought stuff.  (Fennel and white bean puree, orange mango coconut sauce with yogurt, roasted pork and leek and sweet potato mush, curried carrot soup…  I had fun in the kitchen.)  I make sure that my fussy husband isn’t allowed to say negative things about any food around the baby, ever.  I’ve been offering her food off my plate since early in J’s relationship with solid food.  We praise her for trying new things, and make an effort for most dinners to include fruit, veg, protein, starch and cheese.  (Not, like, always getting there by any stretch, but trying, most of the time.  And yes, cheese at basically every single meal for her, in our constant attempt to fend off weight loss.)  Her daycare is great – they serve 3 meals a day, and sometimes I’m jealous of how good it sounds.  Ricotta pancakes with blueberry coulis, lemon salmon with brown rice and mixed veg, mini turkey burgers, and chicken noodle soup are just a few things I’ve seen on her report cards lately.But really, it’s just that my kid’s an adventurous eater, all on her own, and I think that’s neat, so will do my best to continue to encourage her.

Fancy baby "coffee".

Fancy baby “coffee”

Although, I will grant you that it’s likely she’s growing up to be a food snob like her mother.  (Okay, snob’s the wrong word, but I hate the term foodie.  I just, you know, like to eat food, and think about food, and talk about food, and try new food wherever we go.)  J didn’t take quickly or easily to cow’s milk, which makes sense.  I was still nursing 3 times a day, and she’d never taken to either bottles or formula.  I finally figured out the (pretentious) serving method guaranteed to make her scarf down milk: heat it in a coffee cup, froth it up nice and stiff, and serve it with a spoon.  Yeah, “baby coffee, just like mommy”.  You know, minus the espresso that keeps me going.   Actually, I think that’s one of the keys for her right now – she’d prefer to eat what I’m eating – we’re in that fun mimic age.  Also, frothed warm milk is delightful.

I’m sure that as she becomes more firmly a toddler, her tastes will narrow.  Neophobia will rear it’s annoying head, and we’ll deal with that as it comes.  I just hope that by having a 15 month old who eats hundreds of things helps when the narrowing of acceptable food stage happens.  If she refuses half what she eats these days, that still leaves us with a hundred things to feed her.  Much easier than if she only ate dozen of things, and it narrowes to a handful.  At least, that’s my hope.  I am more than aware I have very limited control over it!  Which means, I guess, I should probably serve her some of my childhood favourite pickled herring while I still can…

Weighty Issues, Redux

Hey, so remember like 10 months ago when I was all aflutter because my baby was charted as being off the chart overweight for her height?  Yeah, I barely do either.  I was thinking about it today, though.  At J’s 12 month check up, the doctor charted an actual drop in weight – about a pound the month prior.  So on Friday I took her to the public health nurse office to weigh and measure her.  And she’s lost another half pound.  Which puts her somewhere between the 3rd and 15th percentile in weight.  She did grow an inch, so she’s now up to the same for height, which is something, I guess.  She’s a tiny peanut.  A tiny peanut who now weighs the same as she did 5 months ago.

Yeah.    That probably isn’t good.

The doctor, at the last appointment, told me I had two months to fatten up the baby.  Two weeks of macaroni and 5-cheeses and cream cheese spread and a couple of pieces of bread a day (daycare) and everything else I can think of to fatten her up, minus feeding her straight up butter?  She loses weight.

It’s so hard to tell if you’re doing the right thing with kids.  I worked really hard to introduce J to fruits and vegetables and proteins and all types of dairy and she eats so well!  I really had thought we’d had it all figured out.  I mean, the kid eats more interesting cheeses than David does.  He likes… marble cheese and plain babybels.  J eats aged white cheddar and Parmesan and cranberry goat cheese.  She happily eats almost anything and everything.  She doesn’t like peaches, and we both had a similar blurg reaction to the millet I experimented with, but otherwise?  She has a preference for citrus fruit (including lemons!) and kiwis, but will also eat bananas and purred apples and pears.  She still has no teeth, so has had no luck with chunks of apples.  She hasn’t turned her nose up at any veggie that I’ve made for her, and shows a particular love for carrots and parsnips.  On the rare occasions we eat steak, she gleefully sucks the meat dry.  (She still has no teeth.)  She eats pork and chicken and shrimp and beef and even raw fish, although her preference is for fruits and veggies over meat.  We don’t eat a ton of grains at home – I rarely keep bread in the house because it goes moldy long before we’d have finished it.  I’m not on Atkins or anything – I just don’t, you know, eat a lot of starches, other than rice.  Which she is indifferent too, but I still offer and she always eats a bit.

I thought I was doing good, you know?  Having this kid who turns down chicken to eat another segment of a sweet blood orange.  Who cheerfully eats broccoli and green beans and parsnip soup.  Who loves yogurt with berries and flavourful cheeses.   Who devoured homemade salmon cakes.  Who still nurses twice a day.  And yet, somehow, something has gone wrong, and I feel guilty.  Should I have been pushing higher fat food the whole time instead of fruits and veg?  Is there something more seriously wrong, or is this just a blip brought on by the combo of daycare, a sleep regression, a cold, teeth finally emerging and gradual weaning all happening at once?  How much olive oil can I pour on her food before she stops being willing to eat it?  What’s the line between enough cheese for the calcium (she doesn’t like milk much, though she’s offered it 3-4 times a day) and total constipation?  How much of my reaction is overreaction, penduluming too far the other direction from last time?  I thought I was doing so good, feeding her veggies instead of like, processed sweetened puffs or whatever.  Should I go out and buy more frankenfood?  God knows I love me a bag of chips, so it’s not like I’m totally against it.  It’s just… I thought I should keep her foods pure-ish for as long as I could, you know?  I’m sure it’s not hard to learn to love goldfish crackers (NOM) but much harder to introduce broccoli later, so why not offer it now, when her tastes are so influence-able?

And how can someone with cheeks this round be so slim?

And how can someone with cheeks this round be too slim?

I just don’t know anything any more.

Babies, man.

Report Card

Nell did an interesting post, whose format I’m going to steal.    She and her husband had decided on the 10 commandments of parenting that they were going to try to operate under, and after their adorable little girl turned 1, they looked back and see how they’d done.  Well, I wasn’t organized on the front end, but we did have some very clear ideas of how we wanted to try and be.  Let’s see, shall we?

1. I wanted a calm, natural birth. I read every single book ever written on the subject (or at least, it felt like it).  I physically and mentally prepared myself.  We hired a doula.  The maternity clinic practice was on board with intervention free births.  And then my water broke a few weeks early and I couldn’t get in to active labour and I ended up with pictocin, and an epidural, and a c-section.  The cascade of interventions that I so totally did not want.  It took me months to feel okay about what happened.  The baby came out and was healthy and all is well, but I’m still calling this a FAIL because man did things not work out like I wanted them to.

2. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is an unqualified PASS.  Sure, there were some bumps, with the multiple tongue ties, and the dangerous weight loss in the first few days and resulting supplementation.  And then my milk dried up randomly and the fact that I’m still take 4 domperidone pills a day in order to be able to breastfeed.  But damn, overall?  Aces.  It’s cheap (the copay on my pills is like $2/month) and easy and convenient.   It helped with the bonding in the early, dark days.  I’m planning on going off the pills when I go back to work, and see how long we can keep a morning and bedtime nurse happening, for the bonding.  We’ll see – it could be like 3 days before everything dries up, but I’ll have made it for a year, and I’m pretty proud of me.  Of us.

3. The bulk of my non-labour related pre-baby research was on cloth diapers.  It took me about 6 weeks after Baby J was born to start using them – a combo of being so overwhelmed and also her being so little that even the small diapers were comically large.  But as soon as we started in earnest, it’s been great.  I’m so, so happy that we use them.  There has been exactly one poop blow out, and that was in the first week of using them, before we figured out how tight things had to be.  (I have one friend who threw out 5 outfits on a single day due to the blow out messes, using disposables.)  They’re easy and cute and cost effective over the long run.  J rarely gets diaper rash, and when she does, it’s amazing how much coconut oil helps clear it up.  But I’m not insane about it.  We’ve started using disposable liners, to deal with the much grosser poop.  When we travel, we totally use disposables.  When she has a yeast infection (more common that diaper rashes, for her), it’s a night in a disposable with this prescription cream, and it’s gone by morning.  And did I mention how much cuter they are?  So much cuter. PASS

4. Make my own baby food.  I’ve been meaning to write about that, but it’s a total PASS.  J is a champion eater – her only food dislike so far seems to be peaches – and will generally eat anything you offer her, from last night’s risotto with peas, to green bean purees, to chickpea and cauliflower stew, to the entire cheese tray at a party.  It’s been fun to feed her, and fun to make the foods.  She does get a couple of tablespoons of purchased rice cereal mixed in to her morning fruit and yogurt, and she does eat cheerios.  On vacation, we buy those little pouches of food to supplement whatever she can eat off our plates, but otherwise, she eats what I make for her.

5. However, I was totally going to go all baby led weaning.  So great on paper, right?  Until the third time J choked and had to be pulled out of the chair and back thumped until the food came out of her windpipe and we decided that purees were the way to go.  First time was scary but I thought normal, second time David was done with BLW, and the third time, even I was like, “this baby is not ready for this, we should quit”.  FAIL, but not killing the baby seemed like a much better decision.

6. It was – IS – so important to my sense of self that we continue to travel.  And an unqualified PASS for that, for sure.  We had our road trip to Montana, the trip to Cancun for my sister-in-law’s wedding, and later this month we’re going to Texas.  (Why Dallas?  Why not Dallas?  Basically.)  So in J’s first year, we’ve done a road trip, an all inclusive resort trip, and our favourite kind of trip: the random wander trip.  (That’s where we have flights, transportation and accommodation worked out, and then we just wing the rest.)  This makes me very, very happy.

7. I really wanted to not give the house over to baby stuff.  You know, those houses that look like a daycare centre, that’s how many toys there are?  We have a moderate sized house, with fairly limited storage.  We’ve done okay on this, I guess.  I use this fancier black Ikea bins to hold toys, and we’ve got one in the living room, one in her room, and two in the basement.  Every night we do a quick sweep and put things away.  But of course, not everything fits, so there’s a push-walker in the living room, the exersaucer that just got disassembled and abandoned in the garage, a friend just gave us a megablocks play table so that’s in the basement now instead, and so on.  But it’s quickly tidied at the end of the night, so it doesn’t feel as bad?  I don’t know.  PASS, ish.  Although, we haven’t babyproofed much, relying instead on teaching what is off limits, and enforcing boundaries.  We still haven’t even put up any baby gates, because they’re not yet needed.  So that’s something.

8. However, we’ve been much better about not buying all the things.  I absolutely have bought stuff, some of which is unnecessary.  (But the owl hand puppet from Ikea is so cute!  Like, she tries to eat his face while squealing with joy cute!)  But we haven’t bought a ton of things, and are still getting hand me downs.  David took a friend of his to the hockey game, and got a red wagon, the mega blocks table, a car seat and some more toys in return.  Good trade!  We will still buy more things (I’m trying to collect vintage Fisher Price Little People toys) and more cute clothes (some of the hand me downs really aren’t my thing) but we will not buy all the things, nor need only new things.  Total PASS.

9. Fairly early on, it was clear that I had to get out of the house, like, every day.  So I made an effort, and yeah, we do leave the house basically every day, and that’s been a great help on my sanity.  In the summer, it was multiple long walks a week to the reservoir, and then it became fitness classes instead, and then play dates got added in, and, being honest, lots of trips to the mall/Ikea/shopping because, well, that’s out of the house too.  It’s to the point that a day without a trip is almost unheard off.  A few months ago it was a rare treat, but now it’s more of a punishment, because J gets tired of the house and my face.  PASS.

10.  I love to read.  Love.  Being a reader is a pretty core part of my identity.  Despite having a baby, I still read 88 books last year, and while that’s less than half my personal best, it’s still a decent number.  So I figured I’d read to my baby every day, and pass on that love.  Have I?  Hahaha, no, total FAIL.  Hey, did you know that babies have no attention span and would rather chew on the books?  At least for the first, like, 8 months?  So I’d make a half-assed try every couple of days, but generally just let her toothlessly gnaw on a pile of books.  Sure, we went to the library story time, and have piles of baby books in every bin in the house, but I didn’t push the issue.  And now?  Her happy place is sitting in a pile of books, carefully turning pages, looking at the pictures, and ‘talking’ to them.  Just starting to introduce a bedtime story to the bedtime routine, now that she’ll sit for the two minutes it takes.   So I may have failed in the daily reading task, but she still loves books, which is just excellent.

11. I bought a Boba Wrap, a Boba carrier, a Mei Tai and a cheap wrap.  I was totally going to babywear!  But my kid? After the first few weeks?  Hated all of them.  Like, the best case scenario was to get her in a carrier right before nap time, then scream herself to sleep.  Not awesome.  We’ll try our luck in Texas, with her held on my back, but my expectations are low.  It’s too bad, because it seems convenient, but can’t argue with a baby. FAIL

12. I love sleep.  I wanted to continue to get to sleep.  AND I HAVE.  J is now full on, for real sleeping through the night.  She goes down for naps easily, she sleeps well, she sleeps for a long time.  She learned how to fall back asleep herself when she was a few weeks old, and it’s wonderful.  David and I trade off sleeping in on weekends, too.  Everyone in our house loves sleep.  Yay sleep.  PASS.

13. I was totally going to teach the baby sign language.  Not like, intensively (by the time she needs to communicate what a zebra is, I hope she can say the word), but the basics.  You know: more, all done, poop, bath, tired, sad.  Enough to communicate a little.  Guess who does not give a shit about hand gestures?  My baby.  I’ve been trying to teach her all done and more for like, 2 months now?  And she just smirks at my attempts.  Crosses her arms over her chest and smiles.  Man, who knew babies got a say in these things?  🙂  FAIL.

14. I wanted a baby that would fit in to our life, instead of having to rework our entire life around the baby.  I’m calling this a PASS .  I mean, sure, I’m on mat leave, my schedule is based on her naps, we take her needs in to consideration for everything we do.  But.  We still travel, go out for dinner, do weekend trips, hang out with friends, gets pedicures, throw parties, play board games, go “antiquing”, watch hockey, etc, much the same as we ever did.  Sure, things take more planning and timing, and we’re more limited to how much we can do in a single weekend afternoon, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do the things.  We just put a little more forethought in to them.  We have a very easy going baby, and that really helps, I know.  But we still get to enjoy the things that made our life good before the baby.  We now just get to share that with someone else.

15. I wanted to enjoy the year of mat leave.  To find my place as a mother.  And I don’t know how to grade that.  I mean, the first 4 months were a blur of PPD and crying.  The last month is building up to be a month of feeeeeelings and longing – both to go and to stay.  I have loved some of the phases of J’s short little life, and less loved some of the others.  I’m still very new at this motherhood thing, and I’m pretty sure the only person who can grade me on it still poops in her pants and has not yet learned English. We’ll leave this one ungraded.

So.  9ish out of 14.  And the failures were, on the whole, minor, or outside of my control.  That’s excellent.  I know that as mothers, we’re supposed to beat ourselves up over our choices, and feel guilty, and all that shit, but I don’t.  I choose to feel quite proud of living up to my plans.  And also for setting up reasonable goals!  That always helps.  So as this year of mat leave comes to an end, I can be comforted to know that I did what I set out to be, to parent the way I had hoped to, and that I rolled with at least some of the punches.

And really, these all can’t be weighed equally.  “Failing” at birth hurt terribly.  The baby refusing to sign just makes me laugh.  The reason I liked the idea of baby led weaning is because it promised to give the baby a good palate, and eat adventurously.  We achieved that with a spoon instead, and the victory of result is far more important than the failure in method, you know?

At any rate, instead of 68%, I’m giving myself an A.  Because it’s my report card.  I sure as hell can grade myself on a curve.

Table for Three

Years ago, I was at a sushi restaurant with a friend, lingering over California rolls and talking.  The only other customers in the place came over to us as soon as they were seated.  They introduced themselves and then blew my mind.  “We’re sorry in advance – our son is 18 months old and this is the first time we’ve ever taken him to a restaurant, so we’re not sure how he’s going to do.  We’ll try our best but we hope he doesn’t ruin your evening.”  We just demurred and waved them off, and frankly, weren’t bothered by the kid at all.  I have no memory of how he behaved, so I’m sure it must have been okay.

A couple of years ago, I was out for dinner with my aunt, uncle, cousin, her fiance and my mother, at a Chinese restaurant.  We were having a great meal (these people are a riot), when the meal almost descended in to a riot.  (Well, a riot of a dozen middle class white people.)  At the next large round table was a gathering that included a baby, maybe 9 months old.  And this kid started screaming.  Now, we were all understanding about it and shrugged it off, because it was a baby.  15 MINUTES OF UNCEASING SCREAMS LATER, my cousin went over and politely asked them to try and quiet down the baby, because he was ruining out dining expedience.  In the 15 minutes of wailing, the child was fully ignored – just left sitting in his high chair screaming his face off.  As soon as Kim talked to them, someone picked him up and he stopped crying instantly. (Which, DUH.  Even before I had a kid I was aware that babies often cry for attention.)  However, it then descended in to chaos because they were mad that we had questioned their parenting style or whatever, and it ended up with the father of the baby threatening to go fight my 65 year old uncle in the parking lot. (The staff was horrified and had no idea what to do.) It was fucking insane, but funny as hell in hindsight.

These two moments really stand out in my head, in the file of Things Not To Do.  David and I talked a lot before the baby was born about how no way in hell were we going to be Those People.  The ones who never leave the house, or the ones who won’t control their child.

And we started right away.  David’s mother was in town a couple of weeks after Jess was born, and she took me (us) out for lunch at my favourite Vietnamese restaurant.  Now, fine, she was a tiny baby and slept the whole time, but still.  A few weeks later we were there again, with friends, and she was awake and being passed around for cuddles for most of the meal.  As soon as she became old enough to sit up in a high chair it became even easier.

Chiling in her high chair

Chilling in her high chair at a long family dinner in Mexico

We don’t go out all the time, but at least once a week, I’d say.  Maybe a quick Saturday lunch at 5 Guys with David, or lunch at an Indian buffet with a girlfriend, or dinner with David’s parents when they’re in town at somewhere super fancy like the Boston Pizza’s.  (HA!  But they seem to love it there.)   And mostly, she’s very well behaved, especially for a 9 month old baby.

I’m not saying that she’s never got fussy at a restaurant.  But if she does, we offer cheerios, and if those don’t work, she gets picked up and we play pass the baby as we take turns eating.  If she fully freaked out (hasn’t happened yet but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen tomorrow), the plan is for one of us to bolt with the child while the other gets the food wrapped up and the check paid.  Ideal, it is not, but we refuse to be the assholes in the restaurant with the screaming, ignored child.  We also do things to make our lives easier – we bring food for Jess, and cheerios, and toys.  We try to plan the time for just after she’s woken up from a nap, not just before she needs the next one.  We try, when possible, to go before or after the main rush.  We praise her good behaviour lavishly, and try our best to redirect her the rest of the time.  We tip well, and try not to make a mess.  (Actually, the only time she was ever really messy was at the Indian buffet and she’d tossed some rice on the floor.  My friend did her best to pick up most of it, and the staff seemed fine.  It may have helped that Jess was quiet and spent the meal flirting with the waiter…)

Dinner at the "nice" restaurant at our resort in Mexico

Dinner at the “nice” restaurant at our resort in Mexico

At any rate, so far, so good. Hopefully by training the kid since litterarly birth to behave well in restaurants, she’ll continue to do so.  Another “you’ll see” myth about what happens when you have kids, busted!

My new obsession

I’m trying to transition from admin to engineer tech at work, and currently I’m doing about three peoples worth of work in a 40 hour week, and it’s a little manic inducing.  And it’s totally cutting in to my at work internet time, sigh.  On the upside, I’m kicking ass as an engg tech, and there maybe an internal job offer in the works before too long.  So that’s good.

In the meantime, let me just tell you about my latest obsession. Banana ice cream!  Lactose free banana (peanut butter!) ice cream.  All you need is frozen bananas and maybe peanut butter and food processor.   It’s super easy, insanely tasty, it feels very indulgent but also you could eat it for breakfast, because it’s just a banana and a scoop of peanut butter. 

It always works well with frozen mango, although that’s pretty tart and next time I’ll add some sweetened coconut shreds before I blend it.  I’m going to try peach ice cream next. 

It’s just so much easier than breaking out the ice cream maker, and healthier than anything with cream, and better for me, because cream makes me sick and while you can get lactose free milk, I’ve never seen lactose free heavy cream. 

But really, did I mention how GOOD it is?  Yum.